Planning Portal

SEA Directive Looks To The Future

Published on Fri, 12 Mar 2004
Angela Smith MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, launched a consultation today on the implementation of the European Commission SEA Directive on the assessment of the effects of government plans and programmes on the environment.
Angela Smith said: "The aim of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive is to provide a high level of protection of the environment, by integrating environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of certain plans and programmes. It must be transposed into domestic legislation by 21 July 2004.
"This will make environmental assessment mandatory for plans and programmes prepared for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, industry, transport, waste management, water management, telecommunications, tourism, town and country planning or land use, and which set the framework for future development consent for projects requiring Environmental Impact Assessment.
"Plans and programmes requiring assessment under the EU Directive on Habitats are covered by SEA also.
"Environmental assessment will be required also for any other plans and programmes which set the framework for development consent of projects which may have significant environmental effects."
The consultation paper can be accessed on this website or can be obtained by calling 028 9054 0380.

Notes to Editors

  1. Directive 2001/42 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment (the Strategic Environmental Assessment ‘SEA’ Directive) entered into force on 21st July 2001 and has to be implemented by Member States by 21st July 2004.
  2. The Directive applies to the whole of the United Kingdom and will be given legislative effect in Northern Ireland through The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2004, which are scheduled to come into operation no later than 21 July 2004. Scotland, Wales and England will also be legislating on this matter.
  3. The Directive makes environmental assessment mandatory for certain specified plans and programmes and also for plans and programmes which are determined by screening to require SEA.
  4. The preparation of an environmental report forms the central part of the environmental assessment process required by the Directive. The Report must identify, describe and evaluate the likely significant environmental effects of implementing a plan or programme, and reasonable alternatives, taking into account the objectives and the geographical scope of the plan or programme. It must also document how the preferred options were chosen; how environmental considerations were taken into account; and how mitigation measures have been incorporated into the plan or programme.
  5. The SEA must be carried out during the preparation of the plan or programme and before its adoption or submission to a legislative procedure. Authorities with specific environmental responsibilities, and the public, must be consulted as part of the SEA process.
  6. The Directive applies to plans and programmes whose formal preparation begins after 21 July 2004 and to those which are already in preparation by that date but will not be adopted or submitted to a legislative procedure before 22 July 2006.
  7. The Directive will affect the work of many public authorities by obliging them to consider systematically whether the plans and programmes they prepare come within its scope and hence whether an environmental assessment is needed.
  8. The Directive does not apply to plans and programmes the sole purpose of which is to serve national defence or civil emergency, to financial or budget plans and programmes, or to plans and programmes co - financed under Council Regulations EC 1260/1999 and EC 1257/1999.
  9. A UK wide Regulatory Impact Assessment has been prepared in connection with these Regulations. A copy may be obtained from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Zone 4/D2, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5DU (Tel 0207 944 3462) or accessed at Opens link in a new browser window
  10. For further information, contact Brian Kirk, DOE Press Office tel. 028 9054 0013, mobile 07767 362605, e-mail
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